Right now, the president and Congress are considering a deal to pay the nation’s bills that could cut billions from Social Security and Medicare benefits for today’s seniors.

Seniors paid into Medicare based on the promise that they’ll have secure health coverage in retirement. This is not welfare. Some politicians in Washington are pushing proposals that could raise Medicare premiums, co-pays and deductibles for seniors, shifting costs to seniors rather than lowering costs throughout the health-care system.

Seniors have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits over a lifetime of hard work - a lifetime of paying taxes. Washington shouldn’t just change the rules on people who played by the rules their entire lives.

Politicians also are considering including a proposal that could cut Social Security by $112 billion over 10 years by permanently reducing Social Security cost-of-living increases. Nearly 800,000 Louisianians receive Social Security, and for some, this is their only means of support. This proposal being considered in Congress is particularly upsetting to seniors who have seen shortcomings in the current Social Security cost-of-living formula. Seniors are struggling with no cost-of-living increase despite two years of steadily rising costs for fuel, food, prescription drugs and medical care.

Washington needs to reduce our nation’s growing debt, but it should crack down on wasteful spending and close tax loopholes, not cut the Medicare and Social Security benefits seniors worked for.

Brenda G. Hatfield, Ph.D., state president

AARP Louisiana

Gonzales